Wabi-sabi is a Japanese philosophy that embraces the imperfect, ephemeral, and incomplete. I'm always screwing something up, but it often comes out more beautiful, more instructive, and more fun for it. Come make mistakes with me!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Is it time to garden yet? Pretty please?

Well, no.  It's not.  I know it's April, but it snowed last week.  It's finally warming up here in the midwest, but I suspect it's just a tease, getting my hopes up.

But my hopes are indeed up, so at least I can get started making a plan for my beloved veggies.  A garden plan might seem like extra work, but it really is important and will make your life easier.  First of all, it's a good way to get you thinking about how many crops you can grow and how much space you have to dedicate to each; that way, you buy the right amount of seeds and starts.  That saves you money.  Secondly, it gives you a minute to think about how you're positioning your crops - so you don't put something that's going to be three feet high in front of something little and delicate.  Higher yield!  And finally, it's a super important part of pest control.  By alternating where you put similar crops - not putting similar types next to each other, or in the same spot year after year - you go a long way toward deterring pests, without having to resort to pesticides.  Hooray!

Here's what I have to work with:
Each of those beds is about 4x8'.  Raised beds rock because they create better drainage, help the soil warm up faster (a big deal if you live in short-summer climates), and allow you to add good-quality topsoil if your local soil isn't up to par.

See those green shoots on the left side?  That's garlic we planted last fall.  (Hopefully it will survive despite the fact that it's sprouted and frozen at least twice.  I think we're gonna make it.)  **Update: Less than five minutes after I posted this, the sky erupted in a MASSIVE hailstorm.  Please hold on, little garlic sprouts! ** Last year's fall leaves have been a nice overwinter mulch.  

We have a couple other small areas to plant.  There's some chain link fence, which will be a nice trellis for peas and tomatoes:

And a sunny (if somewhat dilapidated - sorry - we rent) ledge for pots.

Then I went to my fabulous local extension service.  You have one too, and you should use them!  They gave me a simple planting calendar; they will also help you do an inexpensive soil test so you know if your soil is safe and what nutrients it needs.

Then, I made a (very, very) simple garden plan!

Seriously, it doesn't have to be much more than that.  As you can see, we've gotten adventurous and decided to add one more bed for a pumpkin patch.  Because I LOVE PUMPKINS. LOVE.  (More on this in October.)

When the garlic comes out in early summer, we'll replace one bed with cucumbers and one with peppers.  We'll also see when one-off crops, like potatoes and rutabagas, come out - if we've harvested everything by mid-summer, we'll find some more yummies to add. 

We'll draft this out nicely so we can still read it in a month, and we'll pick specific cultivars that thrive in our climate.  Not all tomatoes are created equal - some types of any veggie will do well in your climate, and others won't.  You can also select for other factors.  Some types grow more quickly, some have larger fruit, some make nice neat bushes instead of big sprawling vines; some are resistant to certain pests.   You get the idea.  If you can get heirloom seeds, even better!  I'll post about that selection process as we go.

I can't wait for big armloads of amazing veggies!!!


  1. How exciting! We just moved into our on-base house and I'm starting to plan out how I would like to build our gardens. This is going to be interesting since growing food in the desert is going to be VERY different from Seattle, where I could just throw things into the ground and ignore them for a few months. Good luck on an excellent harvest!

  2. Good luck to you too! It will be fun to see how we adapt to our new climates. I am really missing being able to grow things pretty much year-round in Seattle; the season is short here.

    Keep me posted!